The state champion Dracut High School cheerleading squad includes, front row, left to right, Caroline Mercier, Haley Brouillette, Madison Brum, Sarah
The state champion Dracut High School cheerleading squad includes, front row, left to right, Caroline Mercier, Haley Brouillette, Madison Brum, Sarah Mercier, Fayth Poitras, Alexis Gardner-Kadilak; center row, Autumn Gillis, Skyla Murray, Alexia Murray, Ashleigh Forestell, Rylee Marte, Gianna Dufresne; rear row, Noelle Beland, Jenna Williams, Kinsley Desroisers, Lilianna Brower, Sarah Pickard, Mary Brouillette, Haleigh Lucas, and Natalie Colon. Coaches are Scott Rigoli, left, and Brad Burlamachi. COURTESY PHOTO

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DRACUT -- Last Friday morning, nine of ten seniors on the Dracut High School varsity cheerleading team recalled with pride their most recent accomplishment as they sat in the home of squad members Caroline and Sarah Mercier.

"We're all friends on the team, so it's just like when we win, we're all celebrating at the same time. It's great," said Mary Brouillette, 17. "I love it."

On Nov. 18 the team (also known as DHSVC) was crowned the 2018 Fall Massachusetts School Administrators' Association State Cheerleading Champions at a competition held at Worcester State University. The team, which consists of 20 Dracut High School athletes from grades 9-12, scored 215 out of a possible 220 points, according to Scott Rigoli, who coaches the team alongside Brad Burlamachi.

Nine of ten seniors on the Dracut High School varsity cheerleading team pose together last Friday at the home of members Caroline and Sarah Mercier. All
Nine of ten seniors on the Dracut High School varsity cheerleading team pose together last Friday at the home of members Caroline and Sarah Mercier. All are from Dracut. Back row, from left to right: Caroline Mercier, 17; Sarah Pickard, 18; Sarah Mercier, 17; Haleigh Lucas, 17; Fayth Poitras, 18. Front row, from left to right: Alexis Gardner-Kadilak, 17; Noelle Beland, 17; Haley Brouillette; and Mary Brouillette, 17. SUN/Amaris Castillo

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Victory is sweet, but it took a lot of hard work to get to this point.

"It's a lot of dedication. We practice really hard," said Alexis Gardner-Kadilak, also 17. "It's a lot of hard work but it's worth it."

To prepare for the competition, the cheerleaders met up at the Justus C. Richardson Middle School gym up to five days a week right after school, from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. There were some water breaks throughout.

Not only did nerves kick in, but it was an emotional time for the cheerleaders in the moments leading up to the competition because it was the last one for two seniors, Fayth Poitras and Madison Brum.

"It was sad. I've been with all of these girls since we were 7.


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I've had Scott and Brad as a coach since I hit high school," said Poitras, 18. "It was just an overwhelming feeling cause I don't want it to end. I love these girls so much. I just want to keep going and keep competing. It felt good to be out there with them cause they're like my family almost."

In a written statement, Coach Rigoli said he and Burlamachi are very proud of the team and that this is an important year because 10 members (half of the team) are seniors at Dracut High.

"Our motto is that we are always focusing on the keys to success -- set your mind to something, work very hard, and don't give up no matter what," Rigoli said. "We hope that by teaching them those things, it will benefit after cheerleading is over and for the rest of their adult lives."

When a Sun reporter asked to see a video of the team in the Nov. 18 competition, Sarah Pickard pulled out her phone. Coach Rigoli's video on YouTube has garnered close to 2,000 views as of Friday and showed the team's precision and uniformity. As the video played, most of the cheerleaders seated on the couch mimicked the hand gestures they had practiced so much.

"We've all been on the same team since we were 7," said Pickard, 18. "It's just been amazing to have all these memories with my best friends."

Next up for DHSVC is the National Cheerleaders Association High School National Championship in Dallas in January 2019.

Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.